Spotlight on Joanna Bourne and …

The Spymaster Series

“The Forbidden Rose” by Joanna BourneThe Forbidden Rose (Spymasters #1)

A glittering French aristocrat is on the run, disguised as a British governess.

Marguerite de Fleurignac, once privileged aristocrat, is on the run, disguised as penniless British governess Maggie Duncan.

England’s top spy has a score to settle with her family.

William Doyle, England’s top spy, has a score to settle with her, recognized when he pulls her from her burned-out chateau.

But as they’re drawn inexorably into the intrigue and madness of Revolutionary Paris, they gamble on a love to which neither of them will admit.

They gamble on a inadmissible love destined for betrayal.

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jb tslThe Spymaster’s Lady (Spymasters #2)

She’s Never Met A Man She Couldn’t Deceive …

She’s braved battlefields. She’s stolen dispatches from under the noses of heads of state. She’s played the worldly courtesan, the naive virgin, the refined British lady, even a Gypsy boy. But Annique Villiers, the elusive spy known as the Fox Cub, has finally met the one man she can’t outwit …

Until Now.

British spymaster Robert Grey must enter France and bring back the brilliant, beautiful — and dangerous — Fox Cub. His duty is to capture her and her secrets for England. When the two natural enemies are thrown into prison, they forge an uneasy alliance to break free. But their pact is temporary and betrayal seems inevitable. They flee, pursued every step of the way by ruthless authorities, caught in a net of secrets and lies. As the fates of nations hang in the balance, Grey and Annique fight the passion that flares between them — forbidden, impossible, and completely irresistible …

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JB3My Lord and Spymaster (Spymasters #3)

A daring beauty, she was infamous for taking chances . . .

Raised as a poor but cunning pickpocket, Jess Whitby may have grown into a wealthy young woman, but now she must once again rely on her guile. Her father’s been wrongly accused of selling secrets to Napoleon, and he’s going to be hanged—unless Jess finds the real traitor in the London underworld. She never dreamed her search would begin by waking up naked in a rude captain’s bed. Or how little she’d mind.

Now she’ll risk everything for love…

When Captain Sebastian Kennett prevents a kidnapping on the London docks, he takes the headstrong would-be victim home. He’s infatuated with her courageous spirit. She’s enthralled by his commanding strength and the sexy spark in his eyes. Then she discovers something else about the spellbinding seaman: He could be the traitor she’s hunting, the man whose next move could determine her father’s fate—and her future as well.

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TBH JBThe Black Hawk (Spymasters #4)

He is her enemy.

He is her lover.

He is her only hope.

Someone is stalking French agent Justine

DeCabrillac through London’s gray streets. Under cover of the rain, the assassin strikes–and Justine staggers to the door of the one man who can save her.  The man she once loved.  The man she hated.  Adrian Hawkhurst.

Adrian wanted the treacherous beauty known as “Owl” back in his bed, but not wounded and clinging to life. Now, as he helps her heal, the two must learn to trust each other to confront the hidden menace that’s trying to kill them–and survive long enough to explore the passion simmering between them once again.

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jb rsRogue Spy (Spymasters #5)

For years he’d lived a lie. It was time to tell the truth…even if it cost him the woman he loved.

Ten years ago he was a boy, given the name Thomas Paxton and sent by Revolutionary France to infiltrate the British Intelligence Service. Now his sense of honor brings him back to London, alone and unarmed, to confess. But instead of facing the gallows, he’s given one last impossible assignment to prove his loyalty.

Lovely, lying, former French spy Camille Leyland is dragged from her safe rural obscurity by threats and blackmail. Dusting off her spy skills, she sets out to track down a ruthless French fanatic and rescue the innocent victim he’s holding—only to find an old colleague already on the case. Pax.

Old friendship turns to new love, and as Pax and Camille’s dark secrets loom up from the past, Pax is left with a choice—go rogue from the Service or lose Camille forever…

PRE-ORDER IT: Amazon / B&N

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Joanna BourneAUTHOR BIO: I write historical fiction set in Revolutionary and Napoleonic France and Regency England. It was a time of love and sacrifice, clashing ideals, and really cool clothing.

I live in the Appalachian Mountains with my family and my dog and cat.

To read more about Jo, please go here.

Social Media: Blog / Word Wenches / Website / Facebook / Tweeter

“The Black Hawk” by Joanna Bourne

STORY: He is her enemy. He is her lover. He is her only hope.

Someone is stalking agent Justine DeCabrillac through London’s gray streets. Under cover of the rain, the assassin strikes-and Justine staggers to the door of the one man who can save her. The man she once loved. The man she hated.  Adrian Hawkhurst.

Adrian wanted the treacherous beauty known as “Owl” back in his bed, but not wounded and clinging to life. Now, as he helps her heal, the two must learn to trust each other to confront the hidden menace that’s trying to kill them-and survive long enough to explore the passion simmering between them once again…

REVIEW: ‘The Black Hawk’ by Joanna Bourne is a tale that had to be told. I have a feeling that if Ms. Bourne never intended for it, she would have been literally mobbed by every fan of her earlier tales, until she ‘put it out there’.  

How can I relate to you my emotions while reading this tender love story?! Reading it I felt like Julia Roberts in that scene with Richard Gere from “Pretty Woman’ where he dolls her all up and takes her to see her first Opera. She is so taken by the performance that she almost leaps out of her seat over the balcony, with her eyes filled with tears and her heart so full of too many emotions to be put to words. She just sat there taking it all in. Absorbing it like a sponge, thinking it unreal, and afraid it would end too soon for her to absorb it ALL!

That’s me. That’s exactly how I felt reading this tale.

If you’ve never read a Joanna Bourne novel, then that’s what you’re missing. You are missing a trip to a time that was not so pleasant, to say the least, in the History of the French as well as the World, yet filled with uncertainty and excitement, but also with love.

Romance for each of us starts at a different time and age, and sometimes we don’t even know it until it’s way too late. Occasionally, and if we’re lucky, we might recognize it and call it love.

For Adrian and Justine that romance started at an age that some would say was too young, unless they knew that these two never had a chance to BE young. Their souls were forced to grow old at an early age. Many years will pass before they realize and admit to each other their love for one another and let their souls finally feel they’ve come home.

I will not summarize the plot for you, but I will tell you about a boy who grew up without a name (he named himself), isn’t even sure how old he is, survives the worst of the slums of London by his intelligence and wits (light fingers, cunning and a skill with a knife notwithstanding).

By providence, he gets recruited by and taken under the protective wing of William Doyle (The Forbidden Rose) to be trained as an English Spy for British Intelligence Service. We, the readers, are fortunate to watch this sprite become a most efficient and ruthless of spies, who ends up Knighted and becomes a Head of BIS.

Adrian and Justine meet for the first time in Doyle and Maggie’s story (The Forbidden Rose), and we follow Adrian through two other happily ever after of Annique and Gray (The Spymaster’s Lady) and Bastien and Jess (My Lord and Spymaster).

Justine DeCabrillac was eleven years old when her parents were killed and she taken with her two-year old sister by a family ‘friend’ to a brothel and forced into whoring. From that hell, she is rescued and given home by Madame, a head of the Secret Police in Paris. By the time she meets ‘Awker two years later, she’s become an employee and a spy for the Secret Police, and is now working for Adrian’s enemy.

Even though they worked for the opposite sides, their missions placed them in a close proximity of each other, and they gained respect for one another and became friends. Because of what she went through as a child, Adrian did his best to not even broach her on his feelings for her. If anything was to happen between them, he knew that it would have to be started by Justine.

And after she finally approaches him, ‘Awker knows that to make love to her, he would need to ‘cleanse’ her from the inside out, before he takes her on a journey that will eventually lead them to their destiny.

Adrian Hawkhurst ‘Hawker’ and Justine DeCabrillac ‘Owl’ have a mystery to solve, bad guys to catch, and big, life changing decisions to make, and I had a front row seat as I was invited to witness their life as it happened.

Ms. Bourne’s prose is legendary by now, but if you’re still not convinced at how good she can ‘spin a tale’ here’s just one of many, many favorite parts of mine in this tale.

The scene below is of Justine and Hawker in a room full of people at a fancy ball. They’re on a lookout for the enemy, and he is very worried about her as she’s not quite healed yet from her knife wound. He kept following her with his eyes, not seeing anyone but her.

“He couldn’t touch Owl, except with his eyes, so he let his imagination slide across her, planning where he’d kiss her later tonight. He liked kissing beauty and he’d done a certain amount of that over the years. With Owl, he’d start with beauty and go on to kissing ruthlessness and ideals in the lines at the corners of her eyes. Passion and practicality sitting around her mouth. Not a comfortable woman, his Owl. Not ordinary.”

So, my dear bookworm, if you like sweet romance, this book has it in spades. If you prefer intrigue, you won’t go wrong with this tale. It is chock full of it. Not convinced yet?! Well, let me put it this way.

Ms. Bourne has wrapped this story in drama, romance, plot, intrigue and sensuality and made it a one-stop-shop so I cried a little, laughed a little but I was never bored, even a little!

Fan2Author Interview: Joanna Bourne

b2b: There’s no way in Hell that I can tell you how I feel about this Author! I am truly not worthy! Her prose is awe-inspiring…

“She was a battlefield of possibilities.”

“The moment fell between them like a ripe fruit.”

“He wanted to slurp her down like she was milk and he was a starving cat.”

Ms. Bourne, how does one come up with prose that sticks to the reader’s mind years after you wrote it and they’ve read it? Holy Cow! I am so sorry! First, let me welcome you and thank you for finding the time to visit with me. This is a rare opportunity and a privilege, so I hope not to blow it! Okay, now you can answer the question…

JB: I jest use the iProse app, available through the Apple Store for $79.

But, more serious now. Story prose comes to you the same way the next sentence comes to you when you’re sitting with a cuppa coffee, chatting with your friends in a lively dialog.  You don’t think about the exact words you’re going to say.  They spill out of your mouth and later you think, “Gee, that was clever,” or, somewhat more often, “That was lame.”

I’ll add this though. Nothing is going to emerge in your writing, or your conversation either, that you haven’t put into your head sometime or other.  The bucket can only draw water that’s down in the well.

If you want to write good language, you have to read good language.

I was fortunate enough to hear Deanna Raybourn speak at our local RWA Chapter.  She asked, “Does anybody here read poetry?”  And, of course, my hand went right up.  Bang.  There I was, having something in common with Deanna Raybourn.

A second way to ‘fill up’ that creative well is to live alertly. You remember how Thoreau went out to the woods so he could live deliberately? This is how a writer lives all the time.  He opens himself to the world.  He notices.

So, if you want to improve your writing, you actively look at the shape of a roof against the sky.  You add it to the photo album in your head.  You take mental notes of what’s on people’s faces when a baby starts screaming at the next table in a restaurant.

So a writer doesn’t get his words and images from watching TV or reading books.  He doesn’t walk around in a gray haze.  He looks at the world.

b2b: [scribing Thoreau] Reading any of your books is like ‘living them’…I ‘feel’ everything as I read…Instead of writing “Barely touching.” You wrote “Barely, barely touching.” (Doyle and Maggie’s story) and that made me feel that touch!

When you’re writing it, do you feel it as you’re writing it? Or do you have second thoughts and agonize about it?

JB: Generating the rough draft is a highly emotional experience for me.  I ‘live’ the scene.

It’s like being dropped bodily into the fictive world.  The scene around me is colors and shapes, sounds, smells, textures.  I feel the anger or fear. If it’s sad, I cry. So embarrassing.

The agonizing second thoughts arrive with the second draft and the third draft and the . . .

b2b: [smiling, thinking: she's just like me!] The characters in your novels, and I include secondary as well as the villains, are all multidimensional, especially Adrian. This boy, later youth and now a man has so many facets to him; it would have been a shame if we never heard his story.

Let’s talk about “The Black Hawk”. How is Adrian different from your other heroes? And speaking of, who is your favorite hero (not including your work; I’m not making you choose) from the written word (oh, and no classics either)?

JB: The biggest difference is that Adrian is not really, or not completely, a ‘good guy’.  He doesn’t have an internal moral compass the way my other heroes do.  If things had gone just a little differently, Adrian might have ended up a ruthless villain, instead of a ruthless hero.

I try to show a progression of morality in his life, something I don’t do with the other male protagonists.  Adrian had to learn ethical behavior almost from scratch.  Even as an adult, he’s still working on the fine tuning of a conscience.  His life story is, in a way, that of a man building a soul for himself.

Now, I don’t say that’s how the reader has to interpret him.  But, for me, part of the fun of writing the whole life story has been to see a madly intelligent, off-balance, feral Adrian pulled out of his niche and grappling with the alien manners, morals and ethics of the wider society.

My favorite hero in fiction?

I like many of the old YA science fiction heroes.  I’m talking Heinlein, in particular.  These are men of ingenuity, practicality, and a nonchalant acceptance of duty.  Homo habilis engineeri.  The hero MacGyver.

Good writing can make me fall in love with any sort of hero.  But, all else being equal, I’m not so much attracted to the brooding, stalking the moors with a flapping cape type man, or to men who party like frat boys into their twenties and thirties.  But I find adult men with an intelligent competence tremendously sexy.

b2b: [scribbling to look up the translation of  Homo habilis engineeri] Who surprised you more while you wrote their story, Hawker or Justine?

JB: Justine.  Definitely.  I came into the first draft of Black Hawk with a pretty good idea of Adrian’s life story.  I had a ‘voice’ for him at all the ages I was going to write about.  Thank Goodness for that.  The structure of Black Hawk was so complicated I would have gone bonkers if I hadn’t had one of the protagonists tacked down.

So Justine was the character being created in Black Hawk.  I knew almost nothing about her when I started.  My original goal was to create a woman Adrian would care about deeply.  Somebody who’d be a match for him.

The dynamic that developed between these two surprised me.  I’d originally seen Adrian as much more aggressive in  the relationship.  Turned out that wasn’t necessary.

Adrian really needed a lady with a steel spine.  He could relax and be himself with somebody as hard as he was.  So Justine turned out a little different from the way I’d originally imagined her.

b2b: I’ve been looking forward to his ‘tale’ and wanted to thank you for sending me the ARC of it, but I hadn’t finished reading it. This past week I went through all three books (The Forbidden Rose, The Spymaster’s Lady and My Lord and Spymaster) preceding Adrian’s story and it just reminded me of how truly amazing, romantic and full of excitement all the stories are!

Have you had to cut many scenes from the book and if you did, which one did you dread the most? And can we have it for the Excerpts

JB: In the past, I’ve had to discard some good writing because it just didn’t ‘fit’ the story I ended up with.  That’s a sad thing for a writer to do, believe you me.  I’ve been trying to do more outlining and scene pre-construction.

As I said, Black Hawk was a tremendously complicated story to structure.  I planned that puppy within an inch of its life.  It turns out I didn’t have to discard any big chunks of writing. I’m delighted to be so efficient, but it does leave me without any appreciable outtakes. I will say that the hardest scenes to write were the two love scenes.

b2b: [scribbling-make sure to pay attention to the love scenes] What’s up next for Joanna Bourne? Will you be sticking with the same time period (1794-1818) or will you be venturing out?

JB: The next story is Pax’s story, placed in late 1802 and early 1803.  Home gamers will recognize this as coming after the events of The Spymaster’s Lady.  This is also just after the 1802 section of Black Hawk. 1802-1803 is an interesting year in history.  That’s the one-year hiatus of peace in the middle of the twenty-year war between England and France.

b2b: Oh, now you make me so happy! Something to look forward to!

A famous author once asked this question from another, and I thought to finish this interview with the same:

What do you consider the Historical Romance canon?

JB: For a book to get into canon — for me — it has to have been around for maybe a decade; it has to have been innovative when written; it has to be re-readable.  I like it if the book had an effect on the works that came after it.

So this is not a list of books on my keeper shelf or the best books being written today.  Those are different lists. I’ve included only one book per author.  And I list books I like.  I’m not an academic or a reviewer, so I don’t have to be even-handed.

Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen; Simply Love, Mary Balogh; An Unwilling Bride, Jo Beverley; Tregaron’s Daughter, Peter O’Donnell w/a Madeleine Brent; Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte; Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte; A Woman of Virtue, Liz Carlyle; Lord of Scoundrels, Loretta Chase; The Proposition, Judy Cuevas w/a Judith Ivory; The Windflower, Tom and Sharon Curtis; Rebecca, Daphne DuMaurier; Alinor, Roberta Gellis; Angelique in Love, Serge and Anne Golon w/a Sergeanne Golon;  Outlander, Diana Gabaldon; Frederica, Georgette Heyer; The Sheik, Edith M. Hull; By Arrangement, Madeline Hunter; Flowers From the Storm, Laura Kinsale; Curse of the Pharaohs, Barbara Mertz w/a Elizabeth Peters; Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell; The Scarlet Pimpernel, Emma Orcy; The Rake, Mary Jo Putney; Tokaido Road, Lucia St. Clair; Gaudy Night, Dorothy SayersKatherine, Anya Seton, My Brother Michael, Mary Stewart; Forever Amber, Kathleen Winsor; The Gamble, Joan Wolf; Shanna, Kathleen Woodiwiss

b2b: Holy cow! That’s some list! Just for fun, I underlined the one’s I’ve read as well…as for the rest, I’m sure that I’ll be looking into, checking them out and adding them to my wish list. After all, they come recommended by JOANNA BOURNE :)

Jo, you’ve been awesome! I had so much fun! Say the word and we’ll have you back ANYTIME!

GIVEAWAY!

Now, bookworms, Jo is giving away a spanking new, signed copy of THE BLACK HAWK to one commenter that answers her question (oh, and its open WORLD WIDE) and here it is:

I’ve cheated in Black Hawk and written my characters at several different stages in their lives.  Mostly, you can’t get away with that.
What age do you want your hero and heroine to be?